How to Make the World a (Slightly) Better Place in 2017

A to-do list for sucking less in 2017.
A to-do list for sucking less in 2017. Everett Collection/Shutterstock
Two-thousand-seventeen will go down in history as the year our apparently once-great country was renovated by an orangutan. We can take to the streets about it; we can sign petitions and put on our pantsuits and pretend, perhaps, that it’s not so bad living in a place run by a woman-hating racist with the world’s worst comb-over.

But there are other things — small things, certainly — that we can all do to make the world a slightly better place. Here’s a list of some of those things. Think of it as a jumping-off place, if you will, or make it your own expandable manifesto of ways to make this year a little less shitty.

Stop saying “fuck-tard.” In fact, how about all of us who aren’t currently enrolled in the fourth grade stop uttering any insulting mash-up ending in the suffix “-tard.” Made-up words are annoying enough, but those that disparage people of smaller mental capacities are just disgusting. “-tard” is short for “retard,” a word which, when used as a pejorative, proves your savagery.

Ditch the caveman beard. Facial hair made a comeback a couple years ago, which is great news for fans of the hirsute and any dude with a weak chin. But some guys appear to have missed the part about maintenance, and have wound up looking like they’re on their way to a Dan Haggerty lookalike contest. Beards don’t just stop growing, fellows. You must trim them. Unless you’re Rip Van Winkle or Santa Claus, chin whiskers belong on your chin, not draped over your collar.

Is it, though?
Andrew Hazlett/Flickr Creative Commons
Use a comma, for Christ’s sake. No one is expecting you to understand the importance of setting off a nonrestrictive clause or why a comma before a conjunction is optional. But honestly, people. Can’t we really tell the difference between “Way to go Dave!” and “Way to go, Dave!”?

Eliminate “It is what it is.”
English-speaking America has lost the war on the endless iteration of the word “awesome.” But must we endure, for another year, this over-obvious statement with absolutely no meaning? You sound like a moron when you say it. Knock it off.

Scrap the clever bathroom signs. Here’s another reason why gender-neutral public restrooms is a good idea: I don’t want to stand in front of a pair of bathroom doors, trying to figure out which one is the little boy’s room — the one marked with the kokopelli or the howling coyote. I have to pee. That chalk drawing of a rooster looks a lot like the chalk drawing of a hen over on that other door, and neither of them is helpful or cute — they just make my bladder sore. How about we use those old reliable boy-girl symbols we’ve all come to recognize or else, I don’t know, how about stenciling powder-room doors with words like “men” and “women”?

Read on for more little things to do in 2017.
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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela